Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Schuylkill Will Flood

This is a repost of my essay on the Schuylkill River and its inevitability to flood.
The Schuylkill Will Flood
No one should be opposed to better walk ways and bike ways connecting the river and the community college with downtown Pottstown and across the river connecting Norco by means of an enhanced Hanover Street bridge walkway . Reconnections has been a major goal of the Schuylkill River Greenway Association for many years  and accomplished quite successfully at other locations up and down river .

But, the Schuylkill River poses some greater challenges . Thankfully high water flooding has not happened in the near past but it will in the future , bet on it! Pottstown : south of High St. and up along the Manatawny Creek ; North Coventry: north of the 422 bypass , properties in both of these areas will experience the damage caused by flood waters sometime in the future . We can, as we have done in the past, ignore this reality by doing nothing or we can accept flooding as a fact and plan to do something about it . 

The most obvious reaction is dredge the river . Easily said but almost impossible to get permitted . Twice in the past ten years the Corp of Engineers , a US Gov. Agency , has come to Pottstown through the invitation of Congressman Gerlach to meet with local officials and our state representatives . Their response to dredging- best forget it - in today's world of regulations eternity may be a short time.

Even so, I believe something can and should be done. Water backs up when it's flow is impeded by an obstruction . Islands in the river are obstructions ,but, the trees and other vegetative growths are more of an obstruction to waters as they rise up during flood time . I suggest we get permission from the River Keeper to grub off all tree and heavy vegetation from the islands east of the Hanover Street Bridge down to the 422 Bypass Bridge . Allow the islands to become islands of grass only which would lie down and not impede the rising waters during flood periods .

I suggest further , certainly removing islands and dredging the river would be preferable . The costs to remove islands and dredge are enormous compared to the costs of cutting down trees and heavy vegetations . It is the cost / benefit ratio that stands out . Reducing the high water mark by one foot is substantial , to reduce it by double or more would really make a radical difference in flood prone areas . A two or three foot drop would not be out of the question . 

I challenge our leaders to look at the Schuylkill not only for it's recreational benefit but also it's financial drain on our local economy due to flooding . Please, don't be like the old guy who didn't see a need to fix his leaky roof because it wasn't raining then. Doing something simple sometimes has huge paybacks .

        Ronald C . Downie        

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